Mission and Legacy: What Mark Do You Want to Leave on the World?

my worldLeaving a Legacy

Take a minute to ponder and answer these questions:

  • What's most important to you?
  • What gives your life meaning?
  • What do you want to be and to do in your life?

Now ask yourself:

  • Is your current behavior taking you closer to or further away from accomplishing your answers to the three questions above?

George Bernard Shaw said:

This is the true joy in life ... being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one ... being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy ... I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It's a sort of splendid torch which I've got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

I think it can be said of most people that they want to leave a wonderful mark on the world; they want to leave a legacy. So what gets in the way and what can help?

The Challenge With Living a Life Based on Leaving a Legacy

When one or more of the following happens in your life, living a mission-centered life becomes more difficult:

  • One or more of your basic needs aren't met in these four dimensions: physical, social/emotional, mental, spiritual.
  • You aren't living in accordance with your principles.
  • You are letting other things get in the way. In other words, you aren't making a conscious choice to leave a legacy.

A few years ago, we had a series of back-to-back struggles in our family, ranging from medical, legal, and employment issues to financial, time, and resource challenges.

3 Tips to Living a Mission-Centered Life

The thing that kept us moving forward at that difficult time in was anchoring ourselves to things rooted in principles we valued. Were we perfect at this? No! Were there times when we lacked faith, struggled to live in accordance with those principles? Absolutely! But, every time we went back to the basics and focused on both taking care of ourselves while making sure to give back, we felt an increase in peace and stability in, what was otherwise, a very chaotic and unstable time for us.

So, if the challenges to living a mission-centered life are the three bullets listed above, then the solutions are merely their opposites:

  • Spend time each day, focusing on living a balanced life, including doing tasks that meet your needs in one of these four dimensions: physical, social/emotional, mental, spiritual.
  • Identify what your life-guiding principles are and live in accordance with them.
  • Make a conscious choice to leave a legacy and say "no" to the lesser important things that get in the way of what truly matters most to you.

What mark do you want to leave on the world and what is one thing you will do this week that will take you closer to achieving that?

Post inspired by First Things First, written by Stephen R. Covey and Roger and Rebecca Merrill.
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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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